When I was in college, I worked at a gym and loved every minute of it. One of the things that you notice working at a gym is the cycles of a calendar. We would have record-setting rates of sign-ups for new memberships in January every year. Those people would come regularly, and you’d see some real progress until February 15th. The day after Valentines when you didn’t feel that pressure to get a date and the candy went on sale was the death of most resolutions. It’s funny, and it’s sad. I think part of the reason why weight loss is the number one New Year’s resolution and sadly why only 8% of people achieve it is because we are consumed with our image but not with our health.[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]
When most people talk about getting healthy, they say something like, “I wish I could lose x-number pounds.” We all equate skinny with healthy because our culture is obsessed with image. Health is about wholeness, not just image. Overweight and obese are very different things but equally as dangerous is the unhealthy obsession with skinny that can lead to eating disorders, the idolatry of exercise, and the litany of condemning emotions that come from idealizing the unrealistic. We all need to pursue healthiness, but that means something radically different that most of us are prone to think.
If we are going to get healthy in 2017, we need to look at several areas and indicators. First, have you thought about your stress levels as much as you’ve probably considered your weight? Getting healthy in 2017 might be solely about reducing and removing stress from your life. Stress can be the result of struggling with control. Stress can also be the result of not being disciplined. So, let’s first just be realistic about what we can control and second let’s do what we can to reduce stress. Maybe a good goal for 2017 would be to reduce social media consumption where you see how perfectly cropped, and photo-shopped someone’s life can be and compare it to your current situation. Maybe watching less TV and more time meditating whether that’s on God’s Word, in prayer, or in worship. Maybe get organized, which we will read about soon. You will be healthier at the end of 2017 if you reduced and removed stress from your life.
Second, let’s consider your physical body but not just weight, how are you glorifying God with your body? Paul said that he disciplined his body so that he wouldn’t be disqualified in 1 Corinthians 9:27. Do you discipline your body? Would you say that your body glorifies God? Again, this isn’t a body-fat percentage question it’s a question of stewardship. This is a complicated issue because it’s convicting for most of us. I want to live as long as I can so that I can tell as many people as I can about Jesus. I want to be as healthy as I can so that my physical limitations don’t inhibit me from doing more for the kingdom. I want energy to be up and in God’s Word, working like a worshipper, and home and active as a dad in the evenings. Discipline frees us physically to glorify God. So, set a goal to do something. Take a walk at night. Train to run a 5k. Go to a gym a few times a week. Get an accountability partner and use your discipline time to grow spiritually. The goal isn’t addiction or abandonment it’s glory.
Third, what are you eating and how much? Do you want to start a war with Baptists? Talk about what they eat. Here’s the thing, though, I am not telling you to eat kale for two meals a day and to drink a carrot juice smoothie for dinner. The goal is healthy, not crazy. How much fast food do you eat? How dependent are you on coffee or sodas? We want to honor God with our bodies, so considering how we fuel them is crucial. I passed out a few months back because I was so busy at work and didn’t stop to eat all day. I honestly just didn’t think about it but what that revealed to me was that I wasn’t healthy or honoring God. Think about what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat. Our diet doesn’t get a pass from our sanctification. Maybe 2017 is a great time to make a goal to eat fewer sweets or to cut out carbs. Maybe you make it a goal to reduce what you spend on food each month so that you can save more or give more. Maybe you could even make it a goal to use meals for fellowship more in 2017 and plan to have people over to your house or make a lunch or two a week about discipleship. Maybe you plan a fast in 2017. Maybe you do something as simple as taking a multi-vitamin daily. Like Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:31, whatever your goal, make sure you glorify God even in your eating.
Lastly, have you considered your rest? The rhythm of Sabbath in the Bible is purposed. As my dad would say, “You can’t burn the candle at both ends.” So many of us just keep the treadmill on full speed non-stop. Or, maybe you struggle with laziness which isn’t overly resting but ironically isn’t resting well. You will burn out from not resting, and your will equally destroy your life from being lazy. Being diligent and wise means working hard and resting well. Some of this is sleep, are you getting appropriate amounts of sleep at night? Some of this is Sabbath, are you resting well. When was the last time you took a day and got alone with the Lord? When was the last time you didn’t fill your weekend with “to-do’s” but fellowshipped and rested? Our society is feverishly speeding towards exhaustion. We overwork, never turn off, and never enjoy. I read somewhere that Americans drink coffee to get up and moving and drink alcohol to come down. This isn’t only foolish but destructive. Maybe this year you take a vacation. Did you know that in 2015 Americans left 658 million vacation days unused? Maybe this year you set a goal to be in bed by a certain time and up by a certain time so that you are not only well rested on but living rhythmically. Maybe you make it a priority to Sabbath, even if you’re a pastor who tells everyone to but never does himself. Stephen W. Smith said, “When practiced, Sabbath-keeping is an active protest against a culture that is always on, always available and always looking for something else to do.”
So, how’s your health? How’s your heart spiritually and physically? What would a year of focus and purpose do for not just your physical well-being but your ministry longevity? Take this Monday and make a plan to create a habit. Pray about making 2017 a year that you will get healthier by God’s grace!
 Stephen W. Smith, Inside Job: Doing the Work Within the Work (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2015).